CX Technology: How to Truly Listen to Customers with Chatmeter’s Cynthia Sener

CX Technology: How to Truly Listen to Customers with Chatmeter’s Cynthia Sener

Interview by Ricardo Esteves
Published: August 16, 2023

Who Is Cynthia Sener?

Cynthia Sener is President, Go-to-Market, at Chatmeter, bringing nearly 25 years of experience with a background in local SEO, product development, strategic marketing, revenue generation, and sales. Cynthia joined Chatmeter from a previous role as Vice President of Operations and Product at Rio SEO and has held leadership roles at Acxiom, Hanley Wood, and Constellation Software. She is also an active Forbes Council contributing author.

The customer is always right, goes the saying. But how can businesses truly know if they don't actively listen? Enter the world of customer experience (CX), where the right technology ensures customers are not just heard but genuinely understood.

Chatmeter, led by Cynthia Sener, is a household name in the CX field, offering plenty of solutions and features to ensure customers are not only heard, but "truly listened to."

In our conversation with Cynthia, she delves deep into the role of AI in shaping Chatmeter's services, the hurdles companies face when implementing CX technology, and how customer experience could evolve moving forward.

Spotlight: According to research, 90% of employees believe that without investing in CX technology, their brand will lose to businesses that do. How does CX technology impact customer experiences compared to traditional methods?

Cynthia Sener: The 90% statistic is telling and for good reason. Brands that harness the power of CX technology are often better positioned to enhance the customer experience, giving them a competitive edge.

Customers today expect more than just being heard; they want timely and relevant responses. Without the right CX technology, sifting through the vast amount of unstructured data across multiple channels becomes an overwhelming challenge.

Strategic insights can get lost in the shuffle. It's essential for businesses to have a streamlined, automated, and intelligent approach to capture, interpret, and act on this data effectively.

Can you tell us some of the common challenges businesses face when implementing CX technology?

When I think about the hurdles businesses face with CX technology, a big one is just wrapping their heads around how to use the tech effectively. When businesses just focus on the data they're used to, it's like they're leading the witness.

They're not really tuned in to the genuine feedback out there on reviews, or even the buzz on platforms like TikTok. Truly capturing the essence of what people are saying about a brand and picking up on those overarching themes in sentiment — now that's where the magic happens.

Yet doing that effectively requires the right platform and investment. It's where the line between just 'hearing' and truly 'listening' gets drawn.

As a leading company in the brand intelligence industry, how does Chatmeter address these challenges?

With feedback coming in from so many places like Facebook, Yelp, Google, X, and even direct surveys, things can get complex very quickly. Our platform offers a centralized, single view of the customer.

This approach gives a clear, 360-view of what customers are really saying, and empowers business with the intelligence to take action.

Chatmeter uses AI-powered deep listening to gain customer insights. How did artificial intelligence become a key part of your business strategy?

AI is not new to Chatmeter. We’ve always been focused on giving our customers the most comprehensive data and organizing it in a way that offers strategic, actionable insights.

Now, we’re able to take it farther than ever before, using the latest AI's deep listening capabilities. The benefit of using AI isn't merely about data; it's about making sense of intricate patterns and vast information volumes. Historically, there wasn't a mechanism to deeply probe customer voices as we can today.

Our utilization of AI, especially sophisticated large language models, enables us to discern the sentiment of a retail customer or the purchasing patterns of a healthcare patient. We can then interpret this data in meaningful ways for business leaders, extracting actionable insights. In essence, the depth of our listening hinges on our capacity to process and interpret an ocean of content.

The only way to listen deep is to have a tool that allows you to listen with vast content and bring it in a way that you can synthesize that, and artificial intelligence has been a critical component to that.

Driving brand love and loyalty is one of Chatmeter's key goals. How do you use CX technology to achieve this objective while avoiding "engineered insincerity?"

This is a great question. To truly be genuine, it requires a blend of technology and human touch. While AI helps automate and optimize tasks, it's humans that bring the needed empathy. Marketers should see AI as a tool to enhance their capabilities, not replace them.

The pitfall for businesses is relying solely on AI for content creation, and consequently losing the personalization of their brands that customers crave. Ultimately, success lies in harmonizing AI's efficiency with the authentic voice of the brand.

Chatmeter's platform
(Source: Chatmeter)

How do you strike a balance between automation and personalized interactions?

While not all tasks can or should be automated, by leveraging AI to handle appropriate tasks, such as listening, it frees up staff to focus more on customers. The key thing is that you can only get to those personal interactions because you got rid of all the noise.

This is exciting because you can actually engage with more customers and have conversations. At the end of the day, success is achieved when people can focus on the pieces that connect with their customers and impact their business.

What steps do you take to ensure customer data is used responsibly and ethically to deliver compelling customer experiences?

We focus exclusively on public data, ensuring we don't breach any privacy boundaries.

Historically, some executives might have perceived online reviews negatively, often dismissing them as mere complaints. However, this is a misconception. In reality, a large proportion - almost seven out of ten individuals - actively posts reviews or expresses their sentiments online. While some might voice concerns, many others, like myself, provide genuine feedback without any ulterior motives.

Synthesizing this data effectively allows even top-tier executives to grasp customer sentiment. This data-driven insight can answer questions such as: "How do our customers perceive a particular aspect of our service?" "How do we fare against competitors?" or "What's our performance metric?" Harnessing reviews and sentiments shared by customers online is an ethical and invaluable approach to business growth.

Listening to the digital footprint of a customer who visited a store and shared their experience online is just as vital as attending to an in-store customer. It’s the right choice to listen to everyone, not just the ones making noise. After all, feedback shared on platforms like Google is as valuable as the voice of a customer expressing their views in person.

For businesses with multiple locations or franchises, how does your platform help them maintain consistent brand messaging and reputation across all locations?

Many businesses we work with are complex, encompassing upwards of 10,000 locations, some franchised, some company-owned, and spread across various countries. Given this vast network, it's essential to segment and streamline the brand voice.

Our system offers accountability and transparency, ensuring brand consistency. A centralized tool that establishes workflows, sets approval processes, and places guardrails is crucial. This minimizes the risk of, say, a franchisee posting off-brand content. With these controls, every post is vetted and approved. In some instances, clients rely on Chatmeter to handle specific review responses based on established guidelines, ensuring consistency.

Additionally, a vital feature of our workflow is its escalation mechanism. If content or feedback deviates from the norm, it's elevated to a higher authority within the organization. For instance, in the restaurant sector, issues like foodborne illnesses need immediate attention. These concerns shouldn't be addressed by local staff but rather escalated to those equipped to handle them. Our system is designed to manage such routing seamlessly.

Can you talk about CX’s evolution over the years, and how you see it evolving in the future?

From when I began in the industry to now, the transformation is astounding, particularly in how customers have gained so much power. I recall a time when many doubted the potential of E-commerce or digital marketing. Yet, see where we stand today. In the context of CX, especially at a local level, what began as a basic feedback mechanism has evolved into a strategic instrument.

As a result, the significance of CX content and its distribution has climbed the organizational ladder. What may have once been confined to the marketing department now spans operations, legal, the C-suite, and other divisions. They all desire insights into this data, not just to stay informed but also to shape product evolution. Indeed, feedback on product manufacturing is now a focal point for many.

Today, the emphasis is on amplifying the voice of the customer. How do we scale this approach? At Chatmeter, we are committed to being directory and source-agnostic. This means our platform is designed to accommodate any content, be it proprietary or third-party. This ensures businesses can act in their customers' best interests.

The trajectory is thrilling, especially for our engineers who relish crafting tools in response to emerging trends, tools that simplify and distil information, empowering businesses to take decisive actions.

Keep up with Chatmeter on LinkedIn and read more interviews with industry experts here!

Edited by Anja Paspalj

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